Review by jparis09
"A Lengthy Fun Adventure"
Darksiders 2 is the sequel to Vigil Games 2010 hit Darksiders. The series has become popular for it mixture of action, exploration and countless dungeons to conquer. The original Darksiders was met with positive reviews so naturally Darksiders 2, not only had to be on par with its predecessor but also expand on elements that made it so popular. I am happy to say that Vigil Games has done that and created a very solid sequel. Let's kick the review off with the story.
All of the humans are dead. Corruption has taken over the world. Where do you stand among all of this madness? Well you are the Horseman Death. Death is on a determined quest to clear his brother name. For all the newcomers to the series here's a quick synopsis of what happened last game. War is one of the 4 Horsemen. He had been fooled into coming to earth before it was time and basically in result all humans were killed. So of course War gets blamed and is imprisoned for his actions. Fortunately for our friend War, the Horsemen are a close knit family so his brother Death has come to find out the facts and bring humanity back in order to undo what War has been accused of causing. This quest is not as easy as Death would have hoped. Death must reach the Tree of Life in order to complete his quest. He is told the Tree of Life can restore humanity. This is a long quest as it brings death to many of new areas with a ton of new characters and plenty of enemies to slash through with those trusty scythes or all of those other weapons you can loot, but I'll get to that later. This time around there is a lot more side quest than before. It is really easy to get sidetracked while on your way to the Tree of Life. Usually in games there are side quest so that's obviously nothing new at all. The main thing I really found enjoyable though was the diversity of the side quest. They aren't fetch quest or go kill quest. They are extremely deep and fairly long quest with their own story to them as well as side quest bosses to defeat. The world is three times bigger than the last, and there are tons of different quest to go find and complete. The story is told very well and will surely keep you immersed into everything that is taking place and if the story is not enough to keep that controller in your hand I'm sure the gameplay will make sure you lose some of those precious hours of sleep.
Fantastic is the word I have to use to describe the gameplay. Darksiders was known for its challenging but fun gameplay elements. Darksiders 2 is no different. Combat is extremely satisfying. Vigil Games has implemented RPG elements as well as a looting feature to make it that much better. As you slice enemies into pieces as you surely will within the first 5 minutes of playing you will see weapons and gear flying from their corpse. As you hover over them you then see something else new, these weapons and gear have levels as well as stats attached to them. There are tons of weapons and gear that you can find from simply killing enemies, searching in dungeons and random treasure chest around the world. This is a welcome addition as it allows you to change your gear and also your look which you could not do in the original Darksiders. This encouraged me to do more exploring than normal for the simple fact I knew there was better gear to find than that I already had equipped.
There is also a leveling up system. Each time you level up you unlock points to put into your skill tree as well as a boost to your stats. There are 2 skill trees, Harbinger and the Necromancer side. The Harbinger side focuses only Death himself with moves that will make you stronger as an individual. The Necromancer side on the other hands focuses more on summons. You can summon demons from hell in order to help you fight as well as make them stronger and last longer. Combat is fast paced so you have to always be on your toes when engaging in it or you might see that death screen a little bit more than you might have hoped for. Kind of ironic how Death can die I know. Where does he go? Anyways the gameplay can be challenging at first especially on Apocalyptic difficulty. Speaking of difficulties there are 3 initial difficulties ranging from Easy mode to Apocalyptic. After completion of the game you will unlock a 4th one.
A brand new addition to the series is the Crucible Mode. This is an Arena like atmosphere and is surely not for the faint of heart. There are 100 waves of enemies to slice up. As you would expect they start of fairly easy and then become ridiculously difficult. They are broken up into 4 intervals. Every 25 levels are like a checkpoint that you can start from when you die. Every so often you will be given the option to continue or take a prize and quit. The Crucible is one of my favorite aspects of this game as it gives you a break from your quest to just go bust some heads for a while. Upon completion of the Crucible you will get rare gear you cannot get otherwise so it really gave me incentive to fight through the frustrations of continuous death.
While the gameplay is great there are some flaws that must be pointed out because they are hard to miss. A few times while I was searching for that Tree of Life, I unfortunately ran into a few control issues. For example you will eventually get a Deathgrip item which allows you to grab certain things in order to pull Death further. A few times I would press the button and Death wouldn't even use it so once again the death screen and I was having another staring contest. Another smaller issue would be some glitches. A few times I would jump somewhere and would get stuck in the map forcing me to restart from my checkpoint. My game also froze twice forcing me to restart my Xbox 360 as well. These bugs while sometimes can be an annoyance really doesn't break the game or hinder the overall experience fortunately.
As stated earlier the overall gameplay portion of Darksiders 2 is simply fantastic. With the fun, fast paced combat, leveling and looting system, as well as the Crucible mode, Darksiders 2 does a phenomenal job in making sure that the gameplay gives you something to remember and an experience worth playing through. Even though gameplay is great though, nobody wants to have all that fun playing if the game looks ugly though right? Luckily this game doesn't
Graphics & Sound 8/10
Darksiders 2 doesn't look like your ordinary game. Vigil Games has their own unique art style and it shows in this installment. Colors are very bright and the open world environment looks pretty good. The visuals won't make you drool over your controller of anything like that but they still look damn good. The world is huge and sometimes I caught myself just stopping to look at it because the art style really shows when you are outside. With the exception of those 2 freezes stated earlier, I didn't run into any bad graphical performance issues such as texture pop ins or framerate drops while playing at all. I always play with my game installed to the HDD so that may also have played a factor into the nearly flawless performance of the game.
Voice acting. Oh yes the voice acting. Simply one of the best I've seen. The original Darksiders has top of the line voice acting as well so I was eager to hear it this time around. I was not disappointed. Hearing Death speak to everybody sounded great. As you will find out soon Death is more of a jerk than his brother War, so the arrogant statements he says is always worth hearing. NPCs voice acting was just as superb as Deaths. The sound department definitely did a great job with the score as well. Nothing like being in an epic fight with a great musical score helping you get into it. With the gorgeous art style and top notch voice acting, expect to be impressed each and every minute that you go along in your adventure, but how long will you be playing be on said adventure?
Playtime and Replayability 9/10
The first run through of Darksiders 2 will net your around 30-60 hours simply depending on how you play it. It is a very lengthy adventure. Like I said before there are plenty of ways to get distracted from side quest to taking your chance in the Crucible. I have yet to mention the most time consuming thing to embark upon though. There are tons and I do mean tons of collectibles. Dead Pages to find for our good old friend Vulgrim so he can complete chapters in a book I doubt he will read. Different types of stones to find etc. One thing I must point out I love about the collectibles besides the fact it extends the playtime considerably is you are actually rewarded, and I don't mean with gamerscore (even though that's nice too) but you are rewarded with in game rare gear or a permanent boost in stats. I think this is pretty cool because usually collectibles in game are simple that. There isn't a real reward in game for doing it. Darksiders 2 also features a New Game Plus mode. After completion you may start your game over on a higher difficulty setting but keep everything that you had before on your previous playthrough with a few exceptions. If you are a completionist then you can expect to spend tons of hours playing and replaying this game.
Final Verdict 8/10
Darksiders 2 is a very solid title and I encourage any fan of the genre to play it. It honestly offers some of the best gameplay I've seen this generation and has a solid story to go along with it as well. It also has a lengthy adventure as well which is becoming more and rarer since multiplayer has become so huge. Vigil Games have done a superb job on this installment and I truly hope they continue to expand on what has already proved to be a great series.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/19/12
Game Release: Darksiders II (US, 08/14/12)
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